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Will opening the economy occur sooner rather than later?

Graphs representing the stock market crash caused by the Coronavirus

President Donald Trump recently suggested that the forced economic shutdown might end before the end of this month.

“It’s going to be very, very soon,” Trump said at a press conference on Tuesday, “sooner than the end of the month.”

On Monday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said that the state has started conversations on the post-pandemic economy. Ivey said that the state would implement incremental steps to begin the economic recovery and will be watching other states to see their response to re-introducing economic means. Ivey has appointed a subcommittee of her coronavirus task force to begin making plans for reopening the economy.

Similarly, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s Alabama Small Business Commission has created a committee to begin working on plans to reopen the economy.

Many businesses are urging government officials to end the government ordered economic lockdown and repeal the statewide and county stay at home orders by May 1. The spread of the coronavirus appears to be peaking and they argue that a shutdown longer than seven weeks could plunge the economy into a deep recession and destroy thousands of businesses.

“We do know that reversing to ‘normal’ too soon, the virus will re-surge and can hurt us more,” Ivey said.

Some federal health officials have reportedly warned leaders on the White House’s coronavirus task force this week that reopening the nation will require a massive capacity to test, track and treat people for the ongoing threat of the new coronavirus.

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Recommendations under development by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that public officials use a set of specific benchmarks local communities need to meet before lifting their restrictions.

According to original reporting by USA Today, there is a deepening wedge between the administration’s public comments about a May reopening and the views of scientists and public health officials, including those within the CDC. The scientists are fearful of a “chaotic next chapter, in which still-inadequate testing levels could contribute to waves of disease crashing over America.”

Alabama expects the peak of the coronavirus in the next week or two, Ivey and State Health Officer Scott Harris said Tuesday at a press conference in Montgomery, stressing the importance of staying on course for the time being with the state’s shelter-in-place and social distancing orders.

“It is imperative that we keep doing what we are doing,” Ivey said Tuesday. “Now is not the time to let our guard down and pretend that things are back to normal.”

The state’s current stay-at-home order remains in place until at least April 30. Ivey said it’s possible that some businesses may be able to reopen before the order expires, but she stressed that the state is still evaluating the situation and it is likely to require a targeted approach.

“It’s got to be a reasoned process, and so it’ll be over time, a segment-by-segment or region-by-region approach,” Ivey said. “Because one size does not fit all.”

Crystal Watson is a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

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“We can’t move into the next phase of response before we are able to understand where this virus is, who has it and to make sure to isolate cases,” Watson told USA Today. “Without that, we won’t be able to sufficiently control the virus.”

White House spokesman Judd Deere told USA Today that President Trump wants the country to reopen as soon as possible. “But he has been clear that scientific data will drive the timeline on those decisions.”

Social distancing and the forced economic shutdown through the end of April was implemented to protect the health care system from getting overwhelmed while buying time for researchers to develop an effective COVID-19 treatment and vaccine. Experts claim that widespread testing for both the disease and its antibodies needs to be in place before reopening the economy. They also want the ability to track and isolating new coronavirus cases as well as more time to test potential COVID-19 treatments.

Trump National Finance Committee member former State Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr. told the Alabama Political Reporter that he sees signs of hope.

“The country is currently in a dark tunnel,” Hooper said. “This is truly a time of darkness, made darker by the entire country being cut off from direct contact with friends and loved ones. It’s a time of darkness due to the uncertainty of how long this period will last; who will become sick; who will lose their job, their home, their loved one, and their health. There is no doubt that there is light at the Tunnel despite the mainstream media and liberal Democrats whose sole purpose is to make the president look bad, running around like Chicken Little yelling the sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

“Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that in New York City, the epicenter of this crisis has reached a plateau,” Hooper said. “In another positive development The State of Washington may have made it through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the field hospital set up at the Century Link Field Event Center in Seattle will be dismantled and deployed to another state.”

There are some concerns that re-opening the economy too soon could cause a resurgence of the speed of the spread of the virus.

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Hooper expressed confidence in Trump’s leadership.

“President Trump has exhibited calm, confident and decisive leadership during these times of unprecedented crisis,” Hooper said. “He is the cheerleader for our great country. A role he relishes despite criticism from the left. He faces a foe like no other President in our history has faced. There is no play book from prior administrations, he is writing one for the future.”

“President Trump has been doing a herculean job,” Hooper added. “He has only one motivation, doing what is necessary for the country’s physical and economic health. His mission, the light at the end of the tunnel is to return the country to the path of greatness that it was on before this invasion. Has the President constantly reminds us ‘Nothing is inevitable.’”

The United States has 644,089 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 28,529 Americans have died, including 2,482 on Wednesday alone. 123 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 in just the last three weeks.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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